Show ContentsKerns History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Gaelic, otherwise known as Early Modern Irish, was used in Ireland from around the year 1200 until the 18th century. It is from this language that we found the first references to the name Kerns as O Ciarain or Mac Ciarain. These names are derived from the word "ciar," which means "black" or "dark brown."

Early Origins of the Kerns family

The surname Kerns was first found in County Mayo (Irish: Maigh Eo) located on the West coast of the Republic of Ireland in the province of Connacht, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

Early History of the Kerns family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kerns research. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kerns History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kerns Spelling Variations

People who were accounted for by scribes and church officials often had their name recorded many different ways because pronunciation was the only guide those scribes and church officials had to go by. This resulted in the problem of one person's name being recorded under several different variations, creating the illusion of more than one person. Among the many spelling variations of the surname Kerns that are preserved in archival documents are Kieran, O'Kieran, Keiran, Keighran, O'Keiran, Kerin and many more.

Early Notables of the Kerns family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Kerns Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kerns Ranking

In the United States, the name Kerns is the 1,771st most popular surname with an estimated 17,409 people with that name. [1]

United States Kerns migration to the United States +

Ireland became inhospitable for many native Irish families in the 19th centuries. Poverty, lack of opportunities, high rents, and discrimination forced thousands to leave the island for North America. The largest exodus of Irish settlers occurred with the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. For these immigrants the journey to British North America and the United States was long and dangerous and many did not live to see the shores of those new lands. Those who did make it were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest and most powerful nations of the world. These Irish immigrants were not only important for peopling the new settlements and cities, they also provided the manpower needed for the many industrial and agricultural projects so essential to these growing nations. Immigration and passenger lists have documented the arrival of various people bearing the name Kerns to North America:

Kerns Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Kerns, who landed in America in 1811 [2]
  • M Kerns, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [2]
  • Andrew Kerns, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1878 [2]
  • Nellie Kerns, aged 30, who immigrated to America, in 1892
  • Maggie Kerns, aged 20, who settled in America, in 1893
Kerns Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • May Kerns, aged 1, who landed in America from Dungloe, in 1902
  • Elizabeth Kerns, aged 45, who landed in America from Dublin, in 1903
  • Catherine Kerns, aged 12, who immigrated to the United States from Donegal, Ireland, in 1904
  • Delia Kerns, aged 22, who immigrated to the United States from Bellymote, Ireland, in 1907
  • Patrick Kerns, aged 23, who landed in America from Newry, Ireland, in 1907
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Kerns migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Kerns Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Catherine Kerns, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1822
  • John Kerns, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1842
  • Michael Kerns, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1844

Contemporary Notables of the name Kerns (post 1700) +

  • Franklin Phillip "Frank" Kerns (1933-2015), American basketball coach for Georgia Southern from 1981 to 1994
  • Ed Kerns (b. 1945), American abstract artist and educator
  • Tony Kerns (b. 1969), Singapore-based American film director, screenwriter
  • Kevin Kerns (b. 1958), American pianist
  • Robert Kerns (1933-1989), American baritone
  • Sandra Borgsmiller Kerns (b. 1949), American movie and television actress
  • Brian Douglas Kerns (b. 1957), American politician, Republican Representative from Indiana
  • Maude Irvine Kerns (1876-1965), American artist
  • Joanna Kerns (b. 1953), born Joanne Crussie DeVarona, American actress and director, best known for her role as Maggie Seaver on the comedy Growing Pains (1985-1992)
  • Jerome David Kerns (1885-1945), American composer
  • ... (Another 17 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Kerns Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fidens et constans
Motto Translation: Stand firm on trust.

  1. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  2. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8) on Facebook